Do Long Island Physicians Need Managed Services to Be Essential?

Do Long Island Physicians Need Managed Services to Be Essential?

2020 has been a challenging year for many industries and the healthcare industry is no exception. While many health professionals saw a significant influx of patients from COVID-19, others in healthcare suffered from a lack of patients due to government-mandated lock downs. Although many industries are back on the road to recovery, they are still looking for ways to manage costs in order to prepare for a future that remains a bit uncertain. Today we’re discussing if Long Island physicians need Managed Services and what they provide.

Challenging Times

Even before the pandemic occurred, 59% of healthcare CIOs were reporting increased operating pressures, with 41% reporting funding shortfalls. With the advent of the pandemic, many healthcare budgets experienced dramatic reductions, even as new technologies were needed in order to meet the demands of increased social distancing and higher levels of sanitization within physical spaces.

It should come as no surprise then that every aspect of healthcare, including supporting technologies, have come under budgetary scrutiny. Smaller and recently merged healthcare systems are now looking for ways to continue to have access to all the latest technologies, even while facing significant budgetary pressures. 

Managing Costs with Managed Services

One of the ways in which smaller healthcare settings can reduce costs is by partnering with a managed service provider for their technology needs. One of the great aspects of managed services is that they can easily be scaled up or down as demand requires. This means physicians and smaller clinics only need to pay for services they truly need. If the time comes where they have a need for increased services, they can easily obtain only those additional services they require, without getting locked into a long-term commitment.

Insightful Service

While those in the healthcare industry do need to find ways to cut costs, they must still maintain a high level of service to their patient, as well as adhere to industry standards and HIPAA-compliant protocols. By partnering with a managed service provider, physicians and those in smaller healthcare settings can ensure that all of their supportive technology is properly assessed and monitored to meet compliance standards. 

Security

Since the advent of the pandemic, multiple technology sites noted a dramatic increase in data breaches and other security issues. Beginning in early 2020, data hackers and thieves decided it would be a good time to take advantage of the increased chaos and uncertainty, and significantly ramped up their exploitative efforts. Now more than ever, it’s vital for even smaller clinics and independent physicians to ensure their technology hardware and software tools can withstand increased cyber attacks.

By partnering with a MSP, even healthcare professionals who do not have access to the technology centers found in larger hospitals, can have premiere security protection. A reliable technology service provider makes it their business to stay abreast of current security challenges in order to ensure their clients remain fully protected from both external and internal data threats.

Looking to Learn More?

If you are a physician or small health clinic in the Long Island area who is looking for a comprehensive 24/7/365 solution for your technology needs, including mobile initiatives, collaboration tools, security protection, remote solutions, and more, we can help. Please contact us today. 

Strengthening Business Continuity Is Urgent For Financial Services

Strengthening Business Continuity Is Urgent For Financial Services

While most businesses handle at least some customer personally identifiable information on a daily basis, there is little more important than a client’s financial information which consists of what is likely a significant portion of their life savings. Firms that manage investment and savings accounts spend years cultivating relationships with their clients, with complete trust as one of the foundational pillars of these relationships. That’s why strengthening business continuity is so important for financial services organizations.

With data hacks on the rise, financial services organizations must do everything they can to ensure their client’s investments are safe and secure. This also means ensuring they are able to deliver continuous service such as deposits and withdrawals, and even simple account review 24/7/365. Financial services firms must also protect against identity theft and/or impersonation, which can even be more devastating to clients as these types of crimes affect not only their investments, but almost every other aspect of their daily life.

Business Continuity Defined  

In order to understand business continuity, it’s important to define it as it relates to data and information systems. In order for a firm to have continuity of services, they must have a complete solution, not just a plan for backup, but also recovery in the event of a disaster. This means client data is protected both on-premise and in the cloud in order to keep data safe and secure, even in the event of a device failure.

Do Your Backups Measure Up?

Companies still working under the impression that a daily back-up of all corporate data is sufficient, are at high risk for significant problems. This traditional way of viewing backups overlooks many gaps including instances such as when those in charge forget to perform a backup or the process fails in some way. Other potentially disastrous scenarios include losing an entire day’s worth of work after a failure and/or lack of backup validation, which is then discovered to be useless when needed for a restoration.

Other issues can occur from only keeping backups on-site, which means if a disaster such as a tornado, flood, or fire should occur, the backups become useless. Incomplete backups that only include raw data, rather than including other crucial data such as server configuration and application files means it could take several days to get fully back online in the event of a system failure. 

Finding the Optimal Solution

At this point, smaller financial services organizations may recognize they simply do not have the IT resources to implement the right protective strategies to safeguard their clients from irreparable financial harm. Fortunately, there is still a way to fully protect clients and their investments in the event of a disaster, whether natural or manmade. 

For smaller financial organizations, the ideal solution is to outsource their IT needs to a company that also has experience in the financial industry. By partnering with such a firm, smaller companies can be confident they are doing everything they can to protect not only all the valuable assets and information pertaining to their clients, but every online function related to operating their firm. 

An IT firm specializing in the financial industry can handle all compliance and regulatory issues that go along with protecting client data, as well as offering their expertise in the areas of timely hardware and software updates and maintenance, and ensuring the integrity of backups and their restoration process in the event that action becomes necessary. A specialized IT firm can also establish and provide continuous review and maintenance of system security practices within the financial firm. With a firm that specializes both in the IT and financial industries, financial services firms can have the best of both worlds and know they are doing everything they can to maintain the assets and the trust of their clients for decades to come.    

If you are a financial services firm and are ready to update your data backup strategy to industry standards, please contact us.

BlackRock Trojan: Aggressive Viral Menace For Android Device Users

BlackRock Trojan: Aggressive Viral Menace For Android Device Users

A new attack on android applications known as the BlackRock trojan has already targeted over 300 applications on the android operating system, including banking, social media, and dating applications. Any application with payment features, which is most nowadays, has been targeted and users credit card information has been compromised. How does this all work though, and what implications will it have for the future of the android operating system?

The Mechanics of BlackRock

The essential approach that BlackRock takes to get access to your information is it sends out a false Google Update and requests accessibility privileges. After it is granted these privileges it develops its own autonomy and no longer needs further interaction from the user to operate, it does this through granting itself further permissions afterwards. 

Some abilities BlackRock has, are traditional of trojan attacks, and some are quite problematic. It can collect device information, it can perform overlay attacks, but even more concerning, it can prevent antivirus software and even prevent uninstalling, leading to a longer lifespan than most hacks and more damage being done to your device and more of your information being compromised.

The Network and History of BlackRock Malware

Information from the site ThreatFabric has concluded that BlackRock is based on banking malware known as Xerxes, which itself is a version of Lokibot malware, discovered in 2019. Lokibot is part of an underground network of rented malware which circulated in 2016 and 2017. What really caused it to be a ubiquitous problem is when the source code got leaked. 

Android tried to get out in front of the older malware by pushing their newer devices which, with their new hardware, had a natural adaptation curve for implementing the attacks on the new systems. This, unfortunately, didn’t last long. In 2018, MysteryBot dropped, which was an update on the Xerxes system to work with new Android systems. 

The ancestral history of BlackRock is inundated with Lokibot variants. Parasite was a brief problem, although after disappearing from the malware space, Xeres was the direct parent of BlackRock, with the former appearing in 2019 and now, here in 2020, we have BlackRock.

Top Apps That Have Been Threatened

Numerous applications have suffered the injection and compromise of BlackRock, but the most notable are:

  • Gmail
  • Google Play
  • Netflix
  • Wells Fargo
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook

Many others have been targeted as well, leading to an entire suite of applications being at risk. Millions of users could have been affected and had their financial and contact information now in the hands of hackers, which could be numerous themselves seeing as the above mentioned malware network is vast and diverse.

Implications for Android

Android, being a more open operating system, runs the risk of more of these said attacks if they don’t take a new approach to how they monitor their application base. Two futures exist for android after this latest breach.

One, they stay with the same approach they have now and hope that they can rely on a numbers game, praying that the majority of their apps stay solid with their own individual protection protocols, and hoping the majority of their users stay safe.

The other is they radically change how they monitor their operating system, implementing much more rigorous analysis of their potential apps and making the approval process contain much more scrutiny in their security requirements. 

Either way the future for android will remain risky if they simply ignore the growing underground network of malware. They desperately need to engage in research of this growing corner of the hacking world if they have any hope of maintaining a safe and secure user base.

Get more news, tips and tricks at our blog here.

How to Prepare Your Business for the End of Lockdown

How to Prepare Your Business for the End of Lockdown

2020 has held many unexpected challenges along with a wealth of opportunities for collaboration and adaptation in the modern business arena. If there’s one lesson the evolving year has for trend savvy business owners, it’s that today’s workplace is ready for anything. Gone are the days of the traditional 9 to 5. A dynamic, fluid model sets the standard for the future with everyone’s focus on a successful reopening. Consider these key tips on how to prepare your business for the end of lockdown.

Devise a Plan

The current health crisis means exercising strategic flexibility as circumstances may change from day to day. Many businesses aren’t rolling out the reopening balloons just yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start moving towards a normal work week. A staggered schedule is the perfect next step for returning companies.

Consider which roles necessitate an office presence. These positions should be marked as priority for a gradual reopening. Operating at half capacity or rotating shifts throughout the day is an excellent tool for encouraging social distancing and minimizing a crowded workspace.

Discuss any safety concerns with your key workers and be prepared to accommodate any health or scheduling related anxieties for vulnerable staff. Remember, some of your best teammates may still be playing part-time teacher to their children as well as full time executives! Phasing into a reopening as well as maintaining clear lines of communication with employees, vendors, and clients will ensure everyone knows what to expect by the time the red ribbon is cut and the doors are open on Monday morning.

Be Proactive in Prevention

The best way to ensure a successful reopen and mitigate the chance of future closures is to support your team’s health and wellbeing. It’s a great idea to invest in essential PPE such as masks, hand sanitizer, and plexiglass dividers. Arrange office spaces accordingly, allowing for 6-feet of distance between work stations. They may mean utilizing non-traditional spaces such as conference and break rooms as open workspaces for ongoing collaboration.

Consider implementing varying hours to avoid the 8 a.m. rush or having multiple side doors for entry and exit. Now that travel has resumed (and many of our stressed out parents are in need of a vacation), clearly communicate protocol for out of state excursions such as mandatory 14-day remote work or wearing masks following any long distance travel. Use signage on sinks to remind everyone of the power of hand washing and don’t be afraid to invite your employees to collaborate on ways we as a team can make the office a cleaner, safer environment. Re-engaging your staff is a vital part of the reopening process and a great way to ensure your team feels that their feedback is valuable and timely.

Clients, Vendors, and Training for What’s Ahead

With a staff schedule finalized, the next priority is to alert key contacts of the reopening as well as any potential changes to normal business hours. For vendors, ensure department managers are equipped to communicate their needs and work alongside supplier availability. Many vendors will also be operating under reduced hours so it’s important to schedule deliveries well in advance in order to accommodate any hard and fast deadlines.

Once the technical details have been worked out, it’s time to tell clients that you’re back in business. Remember to keep the tone of all communications positive and encouraging while maintaining a sense of reliability in the midst of COVID-19. Clearly announce any limited hours, state whether masks will be required, and what (if any) services have not yet resumed. Advanced appointment booking and contactless payment are excellent tools for making everyone feel safe while returning to normal. Be sure to spread the message on all digital communications platforms, using email, SEO, and blog announcements to get the word out.

Last but not least, don’t slack on training due to the current health crisis. Technology is more important now than ever for keeping us connected and delivering efficient products and services. Hackers and cyber criminals are quick to take advantage of the growing number of remote workers. Every staff member plays a significant role in ensuring data and confidential information is protected. 

Schedule a virtual meeting to discuss common phishing schemes, particularly those centered around COVID-19 and other recent scams to be aware of, and take a moment to review firewalls and system integrity. Your IT team has you covered as you begin the next phase of your company’s future.

Phasing Out 32-Bit Windows 10 Support Starting with OEMs

Starting with OEMs - Phasing Out 32-Bit Windows 10 Support

Microsoft has recently announced they plan to phase out support for the 32-bit version of their Windows 10 operating system. This recent change will arrive in their May 2020 (version 2004) release. At least initially, this phase out is intended only for their OEM (original equipment manufacturer) devices.

Phasing out their 32-bit version is simply a sign of the continual progress and expansion that tech companies embrace as they seek to provide more capable and more powerful technology devices for their user base.

Their Statement

Microsoft’s official statement regarding the phase out advises that beginning with the 2004 version of the Windows 10 operating system, all builds will be required to only use their 64-bit version for OEM distribution. Microsoft goes on to pledge continued support for anyone who still uses the 32-bit version of their OS by continuing to release security and feature updates for the 32-bit devices.  

The Impact

Fortunately the impact of the phase out at least initially, is minimal. The 32-bit version of Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system compromises only a very modest .20 percent of their overall customer base for this specific operating system. The overwhelming majority of Windows 10 users are already using the more robust 64-bit version of the OS. Of course, whenever a phase out occurs it is usually indicative of further reductions down the road. Eventually, Microsoft will likely phase out 32-bit versions altogether, although it remains to be seen how slowly or how quickly that may occur. 

Why the Change?

In terms of internal processing power, more is always better and there is simply an increased demand for 64-bit operating systems. Compared with the 32-bit version of Microsoft’s OS, the 64-bit version can handle more data at a time and it’s capable of storing more computational values, including memory addresses. With users demanding more and more service from their devices, 64-bit operating systems are easily more suited to keep up with demand. This increase in demand is also reflected in the software applications that developers create. A software app that takes advantage of the additional computational power associated with a 64-bit version of an OS delivers more value to their users.

Another reason why Microsoft decided to phase out their 32-bit version is that it’s always less complicated for operating system manufacturers and related parties to streamline the number of architectures they support at any one time. By streamlining OS versions, it allows those who develop Windows-based compatible software applications to avoid potential issues and development conflicts. Focusing on one architecture allows software application creators to target their efforts on adding real value to a single platform.

The Good News

For those users who want to embrace changes as technology moves ever onward, it is possible for those with the 32-bit version of Windows 10 to install the 64-bit version as long as their internal processor supports the transition. The benefits of doing so of course, will include a machine that is able to process information at a faster speed, thus increasing the responsiveness of the device. Any device that is more capable and runs faster is always a welcome improvement.

For those who have their reasons for wanting to remain with the 32-bit version, at least in the near future it is likely that manufacturers have at least some 32-bit versions remaining in stock. How fast that stock will become depleted is anyone’s guess. If you would like to know more about Microsoft’s phase out plan for their 32-bit version of Windows 10 or how to switch from their 32-bit to the 64-bit version, please contact us.